Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce looking to break out in Game 5

By: 06.13.10  •  18 Comments

Game 5 tonight (8 p.m. EST, ABC) will be like every other Lakers game: First you start with Kobe, then go from there. Whether he’s surrounded by All-Stars or carrying Smush Parker and Slava Medvedenko, no player in the NBA has his number of shots picked apart and scrutinized more than Kobe, and over the last two games it’s been no different. He hoisted 29 FG’s in Game 3, and took 11 threes in Game 4; but in both games Kobe seemed tired by the fourth quarter and went for long scoreless stretches at the worst time. If Derek Fisher hadn’t bailed the Lakers out once, they might be down 3-1 right now … “They don’t want me to beat them, so they put three guys there,” Kobe said of Boston’s defense. “Nothing we haven’t seen before, it’s just when you win those games, like Game 3, nobody talks about that because we take advantage of it. And if you lose the game, everybody talks about that. It’s part of the process.” … So what should we expect tonight? This could be the recipe for one of those not-shooting-on-purpose Kobe games, but this also isn’t the first round or some random regular-season contest. With a championship this close to his grasp, Kobe’s not going to leave anything in the holster just to prove a point … Meanwhile, Paul Pierce wishes he could get as many looks as Kobe. “Just get me the ball, like Keyshawn Johnson,” Pierce said after Saturday’s practice when asked how he can improve his numbers. With Ron Artest in his grill, Pierce hasn’t had more than 13 FGA’s in a game yet, and only scored over 20 points in Game 1. This would be a perfect time for him to pop off for about 27, 28 … After Kobe, the biggest L.A. story line is Andrew Bynum‘s right knee, which he had drained again after Game 4. If Bynum can’t go or he’s limited, Phil Jackson might have to dust off Josh Powell. You remember him, right? He’s the other Ronny Turiaf, the West Coast Brandon Bass. He still hasn’t gotten off the bench in the Finals … Rasheed Wallace is in the lead for the Most Ridiculous Quote of the Finals award, when asked about being one technical foul away from a suspension: “If (the refs) want to call it, they’ll call it.” Really? Does ‘Sheed realize most of the time he gives the refs no choice but to T him up? He shows them up more than anybody not named Tim Donaghy … Still no word on whether Tom Izzo is taking the Cavs job. If Izzo says no, look for Mike Woodson, Byron Scott and Brian Shaw to jump into the mix. But wouldn’t hiring Woodson after Mike Brown be like hiring Stan Van Gundy to take over for Jeff Van Gundy? As for Shaw and Scott, we’d imagine they’d rather wait until the Lakers job opens up … After Big Baby and Nate Robinson‘s “Shrek and Donkey” interview, Dime reader Atom made a good point we hadn’t even thought about: This might give Shaq another reason to start a feud over “stealing” one of his nicknames. Shaq used to say he and Gary Payton were Shrek and Donkey when they played together (L.A., Miami) … Did you catch the USA/England World Cup match? Good intense 1-1 tie, but England’s goalie has to feel sick every time he thinks about that ball he had in his hands before it slipped out and made its way into the goal. Has there been an NBA play equivalent to that on a big playoff stage? Missing a shot is one thing, but having a sure thing in your hands and losing it is another level of hurt … E-mail from one of our guys: “This English team is full of guys who (a) look like movie villains and (b) would try to sleep with your girl the second you turn your head.” But isn’t that every soccer player? … We’re out like Shaq/Shrek …

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